Hot Best Seller

Andrea Dworkin: The Feminist as Revolutionary

Availability: Ready to download

The definitive biography of the radical feminist from one of America’s leading biographers—essential reading for our #MeToo era “You may think you know Dworkin, and there may indeed be things that you can’t stand about Dworkin . . . but there is so much about her work that is prescient, terrifying in its acuity, raucous and daring and very much of this moment.” —Rebecca Trai The definitive biography of the radical feminist from one of America’s leading biographers—essential reading for our #MeToo era “You may think you know Dworkin, and there may indeed be things that you can’t stand about Dworkin . . . but there is so much about her work that is prescient, terrifying in its acuity, raucous and daring and very much of this moment.” —Rebecca Traister Fifteen years after her death, Andrea Dworkin remains one of the most important and challenging figures in second-wave feminism. Although frequently relegated to its more radical fringes, Dworkin was without doubt a formidable and influential writer, a philosopher, and an activist—a brilliant figure who inspired and infuriated in equal measure. Her many detractors were eager to reduce her to the caricature of the angry, man-hating feminist who believed that all sex was rape, and as a result, her work has long been misunderstood. It is in recent years, especially with the #MeToo movement, that there has been a resurgence of interest in her ideas. This biography is the perfect complement to the widely reviewed anthology of her writing, Last Days at Hot Slit, published in 2019, providing much-needed context to her work. Given exclusive access to never-before-published photographs and archives, including her letters to many of the major figures of second-wave feminism, award-winning biographer Martin Duberman traces Dworkin’s life, from her abusive first marriage through her central role in the sex and pornography wars of the following decades. This is a vital, complex, and long overdue reassessment of the life and work of one of the towering figures of second-wave feminism.


Compare

The definitive biography of the radical feminist from one of America’s leading biographers—essential reading for our #MeToo era “You may think you know Dworkin, and there may indeed be things that you can’t stand about Dworkin . . . but there is so much about her work that is prescient, terrifying in its acuity, raucous and daring and very much of this moment.” —Rebecca Trai The definitive biography of the radical feminist from one of America’s leading biographers—essential reading for our #MeToo era “You may think you know Dworkin, and there may indeed be things that you can’t stand about Dworkin . . . but there is so much about her work that is prescient, terrifying in its acuity, raucous and daring and very much of this moment.” —Rebecca Traister Fifteen years after her death, Andrea Dworkin remains one of the most important and challenging figures in second-wave feminism. Although frequently relegated to its more radical fringes, Dworkin was without doubt a formidable and influential writer, a philosopher, and an activist—a brilliant figure who inspired and infuriated in equal measure. Her many detractors were eager to reduce her to the caricature of the angry, man-hating feminist who believed that all sex was rape, and as a result, her work has long been misunderstood. It is in recent years, especially with the #MeToo movement, that there has been a resurgence of interest in her ideas. This biography is the perfect complement to the widely reviewed anthology of her writing, Last Days at Hot Slit, published in 2019, providing much-needed context to her work. Given exclusive access to never-before-published photographs and archives, including her letters to many of the major figures of second-wave feminism, award-winning biographer Martin Duberman traces Dworkin’s life, from her abusive first marriage through her central role in the sex and pornography wars of the following decades. This is a vital, complex, and long overdue reassessment of the life and work of one of the towering figures of second-wave feminism.

51 review for Andrea Dworkin: The Feminist as Revolutionary

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    “It’s the Nazism,” Andrea writes, that you “have to kill, not the Nazis. People die pretty easily, but cruelty doesn’t.” Such an outstanding, emotionally raw and complex biography about one of our more brilliant, passionate and complicated feminist foremothers. As someone who has read most of Dworkin’s books (though not in years; I’ll have to rectify that) I was very pleased to see that the brilliance of her mind and the fire of her writing were fully depicted here. The book starts with an intimat “It’s the Nazism,” Andrea writes, that you “have to kill, not the Nazis. People die pretty easily, but cruelty doesn’t.” Such an outstanding, emotionally raw and complex biography about one of our more brilliant, passionate and complicated feminist foremothers. As someone who has read most of Dworkin’s books (though not in years; I’ll have to rectify that) I was very pleased to see that the brilliance of her mind and the fire of her writing were fully depicted here. The book starts with an intimate, upsetting but inspiring description of Dworkin’s foundations as a feminist, including a horrendous abuse at a women’s prison after a protest, a terrible abusive relationship, and more. This is all sensitively written and tied critically to many of her writings, and really helps the reader see how her brilliant philosophy was born. The easy (and expected) way to go in this book would be to devote most of it to Dworkin’s controversial views and activism on pornography. I was so happy that this author clearly knows Dworkin was so much more than that one corner of her brilliant mind. The book also has intriguing new (to me) and moving info on Dworkin’s lifelong relationship with John Stoltenberg. The two were in love in every way, mind, body and soul, for decades even though she identified as a lesbian and he identified as gay. I also loved, and lamented, some of the descriptions of the complexity of her relationships with other leading feminists of the era. It also does a great job showing how particularly gross the word “feminazi” is as applied to Dworkin, who wrote a great deal of important work on anti-Semitism. Oh - and! Now that the world knows who Allen Dershowitz REALLY is, hopefully people will see Andrea’s debates with him in a whole new way. If anyone ever wrote a biography of me, I would want it to be every bit as intellectually rigorous, affectionate, and well-researched as this one. One of the best biographies I’ve read this year. Even if you think Dworkin might be a bit too radical for you, if you’re a feminist you should read this. She is of critical importance to the movement and perhaps even more relevant today, post #MeToo, than ever. Thanks so much to Martin Duberman, The New Press, and NetGalley for the ARC of this beautiful work.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Andrea Dworkin was a polarising figure even among second-wave feminists, and I was excited to read a biography which promised to cut through decades of rumour and misinformation to tell the true story of her life and career. Martin Duberman certainly delivered on that promise. He did an excellent job, using primary sources as well as extensive interviews to produce an honest and emotional portrait of a pioneering feminist. It wasn’t always a flattering portrait. Andrea was a volatile individual w Andrea Dworkin was a polarising figure even among second-wave feminists, and I was excited to read a biography which promised to cut through decades of rumour and misinformation to tell the true story of her life and career. Martin Duberman certainly delivered on that promise. He did an excellent job, using primary sources as well as extensive interviews to produce an honest and emotional portrait of a pioneering feminist. It wasn’t always a flattering portrait. Andrea was a volatile individual who resisted any possibility of compromise and had a (sometimes unfortunate, sometimes justified) habit of burning bridges among her friends and allies, often over seemingly minor things. A lot of the criticism levelled at her is based on a wilfully ignorant misunderstanding of her work - something which Duberman skilfully addressed in this biography - but there were definitely legitimate issues to consider as well. (Personally, I hate the fact that she identified as a lesbian. I detest political lesbianism - along with anything else that suggests sexuality is a choice rather than an inborn trait - and it is even more egregious when it is practiced by a woman who has a consensual sexual relationship with her husband.) The secondary title of the book - ‘The Feminist as Revolutionary’ - was an extremely fitting one. Andrea was definitely revolutionary. Some of her writing is a little dated now, but her work on pornography in particular is just as relevant and compelling today as it was when it was first written. I wish Duberman had been a bit bolder about validating her prophetic comments in the reference section - he continued to cite older studies when making his own observations, but there is an abundance of contemporary evidence about the deleterious effects of pornography - and I wish he had not conflated sex and gender as often as he did. Above all, however, I wish Andrea was alive to experience the renaissance of her much-maligned but groundbreaking work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Schulman

    Very much from Andrea's POV, derived primarily from diaries and her letters and in this way adds new information. But key areas are glossed over or ignored completely. While Duberman makes a very strong argument that her ideas were misrepresented by the male and corporate media, her ideological battles with other women and gay people are barely engaged, and not with depth. In particular, the impact of her work on The Butler decision in Canada is underplayed, and the existence of an extensive cou Very much from Andrea's POV, derived primarily from diaries and her letters and in this way adds new information. But key areas are glossed over or ignored completely. While Duberman makes a very strong argument that her ideas were misrepresented by the male and corporate media, her ideological battles with other women and gay people are barely engaged, and not with depth. In particular, the impact of her work on The Butler decision in Canada is underplayed, and the existence of an extensive court case against a queer Bookstore, Little Sisters, for importing gay books is NOT MENTIONED. There is a weird tonal quality where Marty describes events and Andrea's reactions from her own perspective, in a pitch of constant sorrow, but it makes her come off as a person who expected the world to take care of her, and never considered getting a real job to deal with her financial problems. It's very odd. Would love to hear what other people think.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Niklas Pivic

    Andrea Dworkin is dead. As far as I know, Duberman did not meet her but had exclusive access to her archives, in which there were a lot of letters. The book kicks off by showing Dworkin’s fierce sides as she, nineteen years old, joined a sit-in at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to protest the escalating U.S. involvement in Vietnam: Minutes later, the police suddenly descended, and Andrea was among those carted off to night court. Her legal-aid attorney tried to persuade the presiding judge Andrea Dworkin is dead. As far as I know, Duberman did not meet her but had exclusive access to her archives, in which there were a lot of letters. The book kicks off by showing Dworkin’s fierce sides as she, nineteen years old, joined a sit-in at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to protest the escalating U.S. involvement in Vietnam: Minutes later, the police suddenly descended, and Andrea was among those carted off to night court. Her legal-aid attorney tried to persuade the presiding judge to free her on her own recognizance, arguing that she posed no danger to society during the period that would precede sentencing. The judge rejected the plea, fixed bail at $500 and, when Andrea said she couldn’t pay, remanded her to the notorious bastille in the heart of Greenwich Village known as the Women’s House of Detention. After being showered and searched, she was subjected to a “vaginal exam” by a prison nurse, then taken up to her cell and locked in. The following afternoon she was brought back to the examination room for another “inspection”; when an alarmed Andrea asked a policewoman why, the reply was another question: “Are you a virgin?” Andrea refused to answer. At that point two male doctors entered the room, one explaining loudly to the other that he suspected venereal disease. Andrea was ordered onto the table and told to put her legs in the stirrups. While the one doctor stood by, the other applied pressure initially to Andrea’s stomach and then to her breast. “You’re hurting me,” Andrea protested. Ignoring her, he put on a rubber glove and inserted his hand first into her rectum, then into her vagina. Removing his hand, he explained to the other doctor that he would now probe further with a speculum. Andrea had never heard the word before. As the exam proceeded and her pain mounted, the second doctor plied her with questions: How many girls at Bennington are virgins? I don’t know, Andrea said. How many freshmen at Bennington are virgins? I don’t know, Andrea said, as the pain from the forceps grew worse. “That’s what you should know about,” he barked, “not Vietnam.” When Andrea started to bleed—it would continue for the next two weeks—the doctor withdrew the forceps and ordered her back to the cell block. On the way, Andrea asked the accompanying policewoman if she could make a phone call. “It’s Friday,” the officer said. “No calls are allowed on weekends. Monday is George Washington’s birthday. You can call on Tuesday.” Released within a few days, Andrea decided to write to every newspaper listed in the Yellow Pages describing conditions at the House of Detention (built to house 400, it currently held 657 inmates) and her own mistreatment there. This is not a wishy-washy biography about a simple bougie girl but a nuanced book about a person who desperately fought against injustice, be it real, imagined, against herself, or others. Duberman does the reader a service by contrasting how Dworking was treated with disrespect and even hatred with how she treated others, both with love, hatred, and everything inbetween. She worked and lived in a time and place where feminism was not rated highly, in an extremely patriarchal society. Dworkin met Cornelius Dirk de Bruin, a.k.a. Iwan, who abused her terribly: The beatings escalated to the point where Iwan was kicking her in the stomach, banging her head against the floor, even hitting her with a beam of wood that bruised her so badly she could hardly walk for days. She managed, once, to get herself to a doctor; he told her he could write her a prescription for Valium or have her committed; she chose the Valium. Sometimes Iwan beat her into unconsciousness. Her pain and fear became so great that she would scream out in agony, but no neighbor appeared to check on her. “If you scream for years,” she later wrote, “they will look through you for years.” They “see the bruises and injuries—and do nothing. . . . They say it’s your fault or you like it or they deny it is happening . . . you begin to feel you don’t exist . . . you begin to believe that he can hurt you as much as he wants and no one will help you. . . . Once you lose language, your isolation is absolute. . . . I wanted to die. . . . When I would come to after being beaten unconscious, the first feeling I had was a sorrow that I was alive.” At age twenty-five, the brilliant, dynamic Andrea had become (as she subsequently described it) “a woman whose whole life was speechless desperation. . . . Smothering anxiety, waking nightmares, cold sweats, sobs that I choked on were the constants of my daily life. . . . I was nearly dead, catatonic, without the will to live.” To read of de Bruin’s horrific abuse and harassment of Dworkin is harrowing. The pain she suffered is described via her own words, in explicit detail. Gradually, very gradually, the forgotten emotion of anger began to resurface. And “the anger of the survivor” (as she later wrote) “is murderous. It is more dangerous to her than to the one who hurt her. She does not believe in murder; she wants him dead but will not kill him. She never gives up wanting him dead.” Clarity also began to return, and with it the knowledge that in the future (as she wrote) “it will be very difficult to lie to her or to manipulate her. She sees through the social strategies that have controlled her as a woman, the sexual strategies that have reduced her to a shadow of her own native possibilities. . . . The emotional severity of the survivor appears to others, even those closest to her, to be cold and unyielding, ruthless in its intensity. She knows too much about suffering to try to measure it when it is real, but she despises self-pity. She is self-protective, not out of arrogance, but because she has been ruined by her own fragility.” Dworkin read a lot of modern feminist theory, formed her own theories, and put her words into action. As Duberman writes, ‘Andrea’s transition from abused hausfrau to formidably independent feminist, had been rapid—and astonishingly absolute.’ 'Woman Hating' contains stories about the history of anti-feminist abuse and Dworkin’s vision about the future. She worked furiously from thereon, establishing herself as a key figure in the American 1970s feminist scene. She spoke out against pornography, gave speeches, moved south (which was a very bad idea), and solidified her (unconventional) partnership with John Stoltenberg. Dworkin was vehement against those who opposed her, and this in spite of some even being her friends. An example, where Gloria Steinem edited Dworkin carelessly: This wasn’t the last time that Andrea made Gloria, in her position as editor-in-chief of Ms., the target of complaint—though what Andrea called the “tenderness” she felt for Gloria to some extent stayed her hand. Over the years their run-ins were few, especially when put in the context of the trench warfare that periodically engulfed the feminist movement. But on at least one other occasion a serious conflict arose over what Andrea regarded as a breach of contract; she went so far—in a letter to Robin Morgan—as to accuse Gloria of “dishonesty” and “repeated lies.” Having learned better over the years than to tamper with Andrea’s prose without her express consent, Gloria—facing an eleventh-hour deadline, and following legal advice—rewrote a sentence in one of Andrea’s articles, and for the word “Porsche” substituted “auto.” It deeply upset Andrea. Ferdinand Porsche, head of the auto company, had been imprisoned for twenty months after World War II for war crimes (though never brought to trial), and in her Ms. article Andrea had deliberately called the firm out for its complicity in cooperating with the Nazis. To Andrea, establishing the linkage between the name “Porsche” and anti-Semitism was profoundly important. In response, Gloria implied that Andrea’s extreme distress about the changing of a single word was disproportionate—which upset Andrea still more. “If you believe that it is all trivial and that I wasted time and energy on something not very important,” Andrea responded, “then I simply don’t know how to be clear and understood, and I can’t operate in a context that reduces my deepest concerns to a misguided personal overzealousness. I am absolutely lost . . . how can I hope to be understood and respected if you don’t understand the issues involved here?” Gloria pleaded ignorance of the Porsche connection to the Nazis, and Andrea in turn repeated that “I care a great deal for you, as I told you. . . Surely you must know that I have been a loyal friend, and that, while I must protect my work and my ethics, I do not want to harm either you or the magazine.” Gloria never again touched a word of Andrea’s prose without prior consultation, and Andrea never again found fault with her standards, either ethical or journalistic. Dworkin could be isolated, destitute, even starving, and would yet express her thoughts in contrast to a massive wall of hatred against her, e.g. as Larry Flynt, owner of Hustler, a porn magazine, made sure that she was ridiculed and hated in many pages of his magazine. There are salient points in the book. Andrea and Kitty felt secure enough in their relationship to read each other’s work with an eye toward improving, not simply admiring, it (though they usually did). When Kitty, for example, read Andrea’s book Pornography in manuscript, she pulled no punches: “You take certain things on the level of their own self-presentation, which is myth, and hold them to that standard, rather than criticizing deeper realities, which in each case are even more open to attack. Example . . . where you say ‘the objective scientists’ find such and such, it is not clear whether you are faulting their objectivity or questioning objectivity itself. It seems more like the former, and I think the latter is more devastating and telling.” Conversely, though Andrea praised Kitty’s speech “Violence Against Women—A Perspective” as “wonderful,” she felt free to tell her that “I think it is just patently wrong to say that ‘lesbian eroticism’ per se is not from the male standpoint, and also that therefore from the male standpoint it is the most obscene. . . . The Well of Loneliness is I think saturated with the ‘male viewpoint.’” The book also goes into her non-explicit feminist work, for example, Scapegoat: Scapegoat is something of an anomaly in Andrea’s body of work. Her long-standing theme of misogyny shares the stage this time around, and is often crowded off it, by her impassioned discussions of anti-Semitism and the militaristic turn taken by the state of Israel. Scapegoat is also the most traditionally academic of Andrea’s books (though her insights go deeper and the pulsating intensity of her prose is more riveting than can be said for most academic works); it seems a surprising anomaly for a writer who in earlier books experimented with twisting autobiography into fiction, and then back again, to end up in Scapegoat with all the scholarly apparatus of the professoriate and a prose style all but free of onrushing proclamation. Singular, too, is the near absence in Scapegoat of those occasional apocalyptic outbursts that previously studded her work. Aside from the innate drama of the subject matter itself, Scapegoat is notably free of showy theatricality or grandiloquence. The tone throughout is highly sophisticated, the analysis measured, deliberate, exquisitely cerebral. The central theme of Scapegoat is the analogous dehumanization of Jews and women in Nazi Germany, and Palestinians and women in the state of Israel. Andrea nowhere suggests any equation between the unmitigated vileness of the German Nazis and the current behavior of Israeli men. In her view, the link between the two, though only marginal, is the cultivation in both instances of a hyper-masculinity reliant for believability and force on the scapegoating of others. The matter of scale is all-important, as is the differing cultural context in which the warrior model emerged in the two countries, and the ways in which it was publicly deployed. This is, strangely, both an impersonal book and a personal one; while Duberman goes through the motions of Dworkin’s life, he does not seem to have interviewed a single person to contrast what he is writing about. This kind of armchair biography brings light, but not enough, in my experience, and this book suffers because of it. When Duberman gets personal, some weird stuff pours through. An example of this: The New York Times, weighing in a month after the publication of Scapegoat, managed to put a damper—as only the Times can—on whatever momentum might have been building for the book I most certainly agree that The New York Times has a lot to answer for, but this type of writing sidetracks Dworkin in a way that I feel she does not deserve. The weirdness aside—of which there are really only remnants—this book does delve into Dworkin’s life and her interactions with others, mainly thanks to Duberman’s exclusive access to Dworkin’s archives. The book does breathe and is quite exciting to read at times. Dworkin was an unabashed firebrand, a beacon of modern feminism: brash, outrageous, angry, and free. We all have things to learn from her and this book reminds us to do just that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    Andrea Dworkin: The Feminist as Revolutionary by Martin Duberman is a well-researched critical biography of an important and often controversial figure of second wave feminism. I should probably admit upfront to having appreciated Dworkin's work for a long time so I came to this with a positive opinion of her and her ideas. I didn't always agree 100% with her thoughts but she never failed to make me reconsider my position and often shift it or outright change it. Duberman did know Dworkin so his Andrea Dworkin: The Feminist as Revolutionary by Martin Duberman is a well-researched critical biography of an important and often controversial figure of second wave feminism. I should probably admit upfront to having appreciated Dworkin's work for a long time so I came to this with a positive opinion of her and her ideas. I didn't always agree 100% with her thoughts but she never failed to make me reconsider my position and often shift it or outright change it. Duberman did know Dworkin so his analysis and narrative are not strictly from his access to archives, though mostly so. It is subtly mentioned in the book that they met during the days of the Vietnam protests, but if someone just cherry-picked long quotes rather than read the book they would miss that. But such is what passes for certain types. Duberman has written a critical biography here, not to be confused with a biography that is critical of Dworkin. He presents her ideas and tries to explain what she was arguing for and what she advocated for. In such a biography it is not necessary to present every counter argument, this is not a book of theory, this is a biography, so an explication of Dworkin's ideas to correct misunderstandings (all intercourse is rape, for example), intentional or not, is part of telling her story. Biography, yes, book of theory, no. The only people who will be upset that counter arguments weren't presented in greater detail will be those who likely disagree with Dworkin. Understandable but disingenuous as well. This work presents Dworkin as an often difficult person though generally not from being mean or uncaring but from her approach to feminism and life itself. She sometimes saw things as easily distinguishable between right and wrong and gave no harbor to those she believed advocated, even unconsciously, for wrong. Yet reading her with an open mind, trying to understand what she was saying on her terms, was always a rewarding experience, even when she didn't persuade you. And if you're not reading any thinker to understand them on their terms, then you're really just halfway reading, you're looking for little bits that you can counter regardless of the accuracy of those bits to the larger argument. Dworkin did, and still does, make many readers take that approach because her truths are often uncomfortable. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to better understand both the person and her ideas. Whether you're new to her or have read all of her work, this makes many connections that have previously been hidden. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Great beginning chapters, what I was here for - Dworkin’s life story. As it proceeded, however, Duberman seemed more intent on apologizing for Dworkin rather than letting her words speak for themselves - which I suppose is the biographer’s job to an extent. He shoehorns in trans people when in reality, Dworkin could never have imagined the phenomenon the movement has evolved into today - her comments in the 80s really have no application. He also consistently conflates sex and gender without ack Great beginning chapters, what I was here for - Dworkin’s life story. As it proceeded, however, Duberman seemed more intent on apologizing for Dworkin rather than letting her words speak for themselves - which I suppose is the biographer’s job to an extent. He shoehorns in trans people when in reality, Dworkin could never have imagined the phenomenon the movement has evolved into today - her comments in the 80s really have no application. He also consistently conflates sex and gender without acknowledging that when Dworkin was writing and lecturing, they were synonyms - not so much these days. He seems more focused on defending his old friend from accusations of transphobia and racism than dealing with the material we do have. These irritating personal agenda items for Duberman aside, I really enjoyed getting inside Dworkin’s head via her numerous correspondence the author had access to. What a woman.

  7. 4 out of 5

    D.M. Mulvaney

    I would not have been able to tell you who Andrea Dworkin was before reading her biography by Martin Duberman. I was delighted, though, in my discovery that I actually was familiar with her from a class I took about a decade back in which we read and discussed “Women Hating.”. Andrea’s early life was impactful to me. I was struck by how events can catapult us each in such different ways. Andrea could have easily blended into an affected, disinterested, apathetic persona because of what she witnes I would not have been able to tell you who Andrea Dworkin was before reading her biography by Martin Duberman. I was delighted, though, in my discovery that I actually was familiar with her from a class I took about a decade back in which we read and discussed “Women Hating.”. Andrea’s early life was impactful to me. I was struck by how events can catapult us each in such different ways. Andrea could have easily blended into an affected, disinterested, apathetic persona because of what she witnessed, the emotional neglect and aggression of a fragile and often self-indulgent mother, but she somehow made her mother into a caricature of womanhood that she would spend much of her life reconciling. She also faced trauma directly without many examples of how to do this. Andrea was a force of spirit that intrigued me at once and I chose to take in each of her ideas with as much reverence for that life-force as I could. Instead of apathy she chose action. Instead of quiet wonder, she spoke and did so with incredible eloquence. Andrea Dworkin did something in the face of assault that is so hard to do: she stared back into the abyss, unflinchingly. She called out into the abyss and made it show itself. Her challenge to the normative cultures acceptance for allowing and condoning practices of marital rape and conditions for girls and women that are dehumanizing was impactful, direct and left no room for any doubt that it was wrong. I don’t imagine many were comfortable in her presence and her presence changed the conversation. Malcolm Duberman’s writing style assisted with my desire to understand the path and development of Andrea’s without pieces missing. It was obvious to me throughout that the author ascribes tremendous value to her life, her work and her ideas which made it easier for me to take in. The author wrote as a companion to her rather than a force against her - I was not arguing in my head as I read, I was taking in her revolutionary thinking with a sense of awe. I am left with an abiding desire to integrate her ideas further into my own feminist theory. The author has me wanting more and mulling the work still five days after I finished. I will revisit this piece and highly recommend to others. I received an Advanced Copy of this book through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    It's rather embarrassing to admit, before reading this book, I had no idea who Andrea Dworkin was. With gratitude to Martin Duberman, for filling me in, I write this review. She was a dynamo! What I found most amazing was her ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles: poverty, lack of emotional parental support, terrible domestic abuse, rape, and slander. Not only did she overcome but she remained gracious and open to everyone she encountered. She never caved in on her principles, d It's rather embarrassing to admit, before reading this book, I had no idea who Andrea Dworkin was. With gratitude to Martin Duberman, for filling me in, I write this review. She was a dynamo! What I found most amazing was her ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles: poverty, lack of emotional parental support, terrible domestic abuse, rape, and slander. Not only did she overcome but she remained gracious and open to everyone she encountered. She never caved in on her principles, despite extreme, external pressures and continual negative press. But as one sends out work and meets with constant editorial abuse, and then slowly as one's work gets printed here and there and one experiences the anger and vilification so often directed at feminist work --then, even sitting down to work at all becomes more and more difficult. One knows that there is no place to publish; one knows the rejection letters that will come before they are written; one knows the abuse that will come if the work is printed. Ironically, as one learns more and more about the nature of women's oppression through one's work, it becomes harder to work. One's work in the world meets the same kind of abuse of one's body. 80-81 She wrote many books and I don't believe she ever actually graduated from college. She was a prolific and gifted orator and accepted numerous speaking engagements and lecture opportunities, often simply to pay the bills. Andrea Dworkin's main fight was against pornography, especially overcoming the pornographers' arguments in favor of free speech. Women who protest pornography as both an expression of male sadism and a further incitement to it were once again being counseled to remain silent -- in the name, bizarrely, of freedom of speech. 135 She spoke out forcefully --and got a tumultuous response when she insisted that women "will never again accept any depiction of us that has as its first principle, its first premise, that we want to be abused, that we enjoy being hurt, that we like being forced." Those are male assumptions about women's lives. "Some people say that pornography is only fantasy. What part of it is fantasy? Women are beaten and raped and forced and whipped and held captive. The violence depicted is real. The acts of violence depicted in pornography are actual acts committed against real women and real female children. The fantasy is that women want to be abused." 135 She did, though, successfully convey the essence of her defense against the standard charge that curtailing pornography was an affront to the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech: "women as a class are excluded from being able to exercise speech--rape, battery, and incest all being ways of keeping a class of people from being able to speak at all." The overflow crowd remained hushed throughout her talk--and gave her a standing ovation at its close. 155 As Andrea put it, "Pornography has precisely to do with the situation of poor women--which in my view is why we are getting so much shit thrown at us in the women's movement. People have no idea how middle-classed and privileged their liberal First Amendment stuff is--how power and money determine who can actually speak in this society." Besides, she argued, the First Amendment did not intend a free pass to any form of speech; both libel and perjury had never been forms of protected expression. 206 When Andrea herself testified before the Commission, she spoke with such moving simplicity that one of the commissioners, Park Elliott Dietz, director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, later said that he'd been brought to tears. ("I am asking you as individuals," Andrea had said, "to have the courage, because I think it's what you will need, to actually be willing yourselves to go and cut that woman down and untie her hands and take the gag out of her mouth, and to do something, for her freedom.") 207 In writing about her novel, Ice and Fire Andrea had this to say, it cannot resonate for anyone who refuses to acknowledge "the intersection of poverty and sexual exploitation. You needed to give a damn about that interconnection before the novel could mean anything to you. It is probably easier to celebrate prostitution as a so-called feminist option for women, the current liberal dogma in this country, than to read Ice and Fire and feel the cost of being bought and sold." 215 I can imagine Andrea rolling over in her grave over the likes of Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court; escalating sexual trafficking across the United States; the scandalous behavior of Epstein and his ilk, trafficking women and children for the upper echelons of society; and an American President who claims he can do whatever he wants with women, "Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything". Too much male, privileged freedom of speech and the continued silencing of women. Oh yeah, this book has me fired up! If you've read enough of my reviews you know that I love photos and there's an entire section of photos. Baby Andrea Dworkin photos! The overalls! Photos spanning the timeline of her life are included. The photo of Andrea with John Stoltenberg is especially endearing, as they appear happy and relaxed together. Martin Duberman describes their relationship, and eventual marriage (mainly for health insurance reasons), but they did seem to love each other and care for each other deeply. For which I'm grateful, because it brings some relief and satisfaction to know that, eventually, Andrea had someone consistently in her life, rooting for her and loving her, unconditionally. She died at the age of 58 from heart inflammation. To say she had a difficult life is mild, it's no wonder she died of a broken heart. 4.5 stars, as it was a bit of a behemoth, at times. For example, the repetition of naming her books, Mostly out of financial necessity she again began, soon after the double publication in 1987 of Ice and Fire and Intercourse...220. That was already mentioned, earlier, etc. I'm being super picky, though, it's an excellent biography.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vantine

    The book is well researched and the author's affection for his subject shines through. Andrea Dworkin and the radical feminism of the 1970's is a compelling subject. Her life as a young adult as well as her perspective in the anti-pornography battles of the 80's is well documented. What the book suffers from is being too willing to accept Dworkin's position and the author often argues her points for her without presenting a fair accounting of her critics. Her support for Linda Lovelace and her c The book is well researched and the author's affection for his subject shines through. Andrea Dworkin and the radical feminism of the 1970's is a compelling subject. Her life as a young adult as well as her perspective in the anti-pornography battles of the 80's is well documented. What the book suffers from is being too willing to accept Dworkin's position and the author often argues her points for her without presenting a fair accounting of her critics. Her support for Linda Lovelace and her claims of being raped and mistreated have been countered. None of that is present in the book. The position of women working within pornography who disagree with Dworkin is not presented. Arguments by feminists like the ACLU's Nadine Strossen not presented fairly but are argued against by the author. The book is a good read and I would recommend it. However, anyone really interested in either radical feminism or the pornography wars would do well to supplement this with other materials.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    A deep dive into someone who was a contentious figure, correcting the record on any number of mischaracterizations. A little fawning (the author was a friend/acquaintance of many of those involved), but all-in-all an insightful look into this much-maligned writer and activist.

  11. 4 out of 5

    jessicamax stein

    Reads like a novel. A kind and sympathetic portrayal of an important figure, without stinting on the dogmatism and (justified) rage that made her so controversial.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Barb Wild

    really opened my mind to from a females perspective. I wish all the kids in the high school senior class could read this before they leave high school. Highly proclaimed in my eyes.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sena

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen O'Neal

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  18. 5 out of 5

    Seven Klein

  19. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Davies

  20. 4 out of 5

    Youssef Hassan

  21. 4 out of 5

    SundayRain

  22. 5 out of 5

    Animated Summary

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jo

  24. 4 out of 5

    enoughtohold

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary Kay

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nav

  27. 4 out of 5

    S(u)aad

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gerhard

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharkey

  31. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  32. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  33. 5 out of 5

    Anna Richey

  34. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  35. 5 out of 5

    Martha

  36. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  37. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

  38. 4 out of 5

    Lawra Moon

  39. 4 out of 5

    Strained Eye

  40. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Powers

  41. 4 out of 5

    Shoshanna

  42. 4 out of 5

    Judith Rosenbaum

  43. 4 out of 5

    Megan Rosol

  44. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  45. 5 out of 5

    Kole

  46. 5 out of 5

    Cody

  47. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Coridan

  48. 4 out of 5

    Alison

  49. 4 out of 5

    Carmen Guajardo

  50. 4 out of 5

    Dayna

  51. 4 out of 5

    Pat

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.